It was a nice surprise when Sheri Sword found a note on Facebook from a friend she hadn’t heard from in quite some time.
“This morning, I got a friend request from someone I knew,” she said. “After accepting and exchanging a few pleasantries, the conversation started sounding completely unlike him.”
The picture and Facebook address appeared to match the person who contacted her, but his approach was off.
He wrote: “Have you heard the good news about agent Davis who works for the federal government program offer?”
It was that quick that he responded, Sword said.
The hacker wrote more: “The money is from the federal government head office to help all the community. I think you should have get the money already because i saw your name among the winners list when the federal government agent brought cash to my home and i wonder if you have got yours?”
At that point, Sword stopped responding, unfriended the hacker and called her friend on the phone to warn him his account had been hijacked.
How the scam works:
You get a friend request. You don’t have time to check out this new person, but you hit “accept” anyway. Or your privacy settings are pretty wide open and non-friends can see your pages. Either way, the scammer uses the access to your account to scrape images and other information from your profile. He creates a new account under your same name and fills it with your photos, interests and status updates. With 500 million people on Facebook worldwide, you are unlikely to spot the impersonator.
After creating a duplicate account, the scammer sends friend requests to your existing Facebook friends. People recognize your name and hit “accept,” not realizing that the account is a fake. They don’t notice anything is wrong until your impostor starts sending out requests for money and spam links.
Messages and links may be obvious scams when coming from an unknown email address, but they are a lot more credible when shared by a Facebook “friend.” Always be careful what you click, no matter who shares it.
Help combat fake Facebook accounts by taking the following steps:
• Always double-check friend requests: Don’t just automatically click “accept” for new requests. Take a few moments to look over the profile and verify that account is a real person, not a scam. Scan your list of friends to see if any show up twice (the newer account is going to be the scam one).
• Don’t blindly trust friends’ recommendations: Just because a link or video is shared by a friend doesn’t mean that it’s safe to click. It could be a fake account, a hacker or merely that your friend hasn’t done his or her research.
• Watch for poor grammar: Scam Facebook posts often are riddled with typos and poor English.
• Alert your friends: If your Facebook friend suddenly starts posting links to work-at-home schemes or scandalous celebrity videos, tell him or her directly about the suspicious activity. Otherwise, they never may know that their account has been hacked/impersonated.
• Report fake accounts to Facebook: Facebook does not allow accounts that are pretending to be someone else.